Manoel Island’s ‘phantom’ road blocks landowner's plans

Transport Malta has objected to the development of a five-storey apartment block on a vacant site along Triq Luqa Briffa in Gzira

A defunct proposal for a link road from Kappara to Manoel Island, as shown in this photo, has spiked the permit for a Gzira apartment block which was to be built in the encricled area
A defunct proposal for a link road from Kappara to Manoel Island, as shown in this photo, has spiked the permit for a Gzira apartment block which was to be built in the encricled area

Transport Malta has objected to the development of a five-storey apartment block on a vacant site along Triq Luqa Briffa in Gzira, saying it will obstruct a link road to Manoel Island.

The permit was turned down for this reason in November 2019.

But the development of the link road, which would pass through this stretch of undeveloped land behind the Azzopardi fish shop, was ruled out in a transport impact Assessment for the Manoel Island project.

The developer of a five-story apartment block in Gzira has accused the authorities of a “schizophrenic” stance, after his permit was turned down because the project would obstruct a link road connecting Kappara to Manoel Island.

Transport Malta objected to the project on Luqa Briffa street in Gzira, claiming it would obstruct the future development of the Kappara link road to Manoel Island.

But the link road, which was once thought would pass through this undeveloped land behind the Azzopardi fish ship on Sliema Road, had already been ruled out for development in a transport impact assessment for the Manoel Island project.

The owner of the proposed block has now appealed, accusing TM of “adopting a schizophrenic stance – not objecting to the Manoel Island development even though it acknowledges that the government does not intend to pursue the implementation of the Manoel Island link road, while at the same time opposing the applicant’s request for the development of his site because this would impede the development of the Manoel Island link road.”

The developer said eight other permits had been issued by the Planning Authority along the same road, but the PA says these were located within existing clusters of buildings and not on open space.

The link road was firmly opposed by the Gzira council when it was first proposed in the 1990s due to its impact on residents and for bisecting the locality. A permit issued in 1999 was revoked following an appeal by a landowner. But the development of the link road was once again proposed in the local plan.

The local plan states that any development which the PA deems could “inhibit the construction of the Manoel Island Link Road and associated junction improvements”, should not be allowed. The local plan states that the need for improvements to the road network stem from more detailed considerations of the likely traffic impact associated with the development of Manoel Island and Tigné projects. “In the meantime, it is important to ensure that no development is permitted which would prejudice or inhibit the necessary improvements, and particularly the construction of the new Manoel Island Link Road, from being undertaken,” it states.

The TIA for the approved Manoel Island project predicts that the approved development at Manoel Island by the MIDI consortium will generate an annual daily average number of 4,900 inbound and outbound trips, 65% of which expected to pass through the Kappara junction, while another 15% will pass through Testaferrata Street inbound, and out through Abate Rigord Street and the Ta’ Xbiex seafront, a route principally for journeys to and from Valletta, Floriana, Pietà, and Hamrun.

This drastic increase in traffic is considered to be “particularly significant, considering the already-congested traffic situation within the wider Gzira and Sliema area”.

An appeal against the approval of the MIDI project in Manoel Island is still pending. In December talks between Midi and Tumas Group to transform Manoel Island into a top-end Mediterranean village, were dropped, the companies have announced. But Midi said that it remains fully committed to the Manoel Island project and the development works will commence once the required planning permits are issued.

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